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Rila Mountains
Rila Mountains

Rila Mountains

National Park Rila, Bulgaria

The basics

Avid hikers decamp to the 29 peaks of the Rila Mountains for access to two of Europe’s longest trail routes—the E4 and E8. Hikers with less time or stamina can opt for popular one-day excursions from Sofia, including guided treks to the Seven Rila Lakes and Mount Musala. Bike tours are another option during the warmer months, while winter brings prime snowshoeing conditions in the forests of Rila National Park.

Less athletic travelers can still enjoy the beauty of this epic mountain range with wine tasting in the Medi Valley or a soak in the medicinal hot mineral waters of Sapareva Banya. Outdoor adventure can be paired with a cultural visit to Rila Monastery—a stunning Eastern Orthodox monastery treasured for its colorful frescoes and ornately carved wood icons.

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Rila Monastery and 7 Rila Lakes Self-Guided Shared Trip from Sofia
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Rila Monastery and 7 Rila Lakes Self-Guided Shared Trip from Sofia
star-4.5
$46.92 per adult
Traveler Favorite
AMAZING
Even if it says "self-guided", Bobby told us everything we needed to know before departing for the Rila lakes. Drop off at the lakes is 8.45 and pick up is at 15, 6 hours is kore than enough to take the chair lift and hike the 8km trail (even with a 1y8m baby as we did). There is really no need for a guide during the hike as the trail is perfectly delimited. Before departing to the monastery, Bobby again told us everything we needed to know and gave lots of tips and advice. Awesome guide and amazing day!
Antu_D, Aug 2022

Recent reviews from experiences in Sofia

star-5
Bobi was very friendly...
Christian_S, Aug 2022
Rila Monastery and 7 Rila Lakes Self-Guided Shared Trip from Sofia
Bobi was very friendly and provided excellent guidance. Highly recommended 👌. The Rila mountain is wonderful
star-5
Well organised trip....
Bozhana_P, Aug 2022
Rila Monastery and 7 Rila Lakes Self-Guided Shared Trip from Sofia
Well organised trip. Minivan comfortable n driver was good. On time to depart. Excellent briefing tips about mountain routes. Highly recommend this self guided tour. My friend & I enjoyed the trip.
star-5
Stunning scenery, great...
Antoaneta_P, Jul 2022
Rila Monastery and 7 Rila Lakes Self-Guided Shared Trip from Sofia
Stunning scenery, great sense of peace. Viator made it all very easily accessible. A fantastic day out!
star-5
Great day.
Jonathan_Y, Jul 2022
Rila Monastery and 7 Rila Lakes Self-Guided Shared Trip from Sofia
Beautiful lakes. Hiking is strennouos but worth it. Highly recommended. Nila monastary is magnificent.
star-5
Great!
Alyia_H, Jul 2021
Private tour: Rila Mountains and The Seven Rila Lakes from Sofia
The tour was amazing! Valentin was super patient with our pace and we learned a lot from him. We had a lot of fun.
star-5
Excellent!!!
Shai_Y, Dec 2019
Private tour: Rila Mountains and The Seven Rila Lakes from Sofia
We enjoy the order it was easy and rilabele. Also we found the travel guide pataya excelent!!!!!!!!!
star-5
Nice tour with an excellent guide
Pedro A, Sep 2019
Private tour: Rila Mountains and The Seven Rila Lakes from Sofia
Rila Mountains are a beautiful place. Our guide Petia provided an excellent service, from pick-up to drop-off.
star-5
Breathtaking views
Alex_P, Jul 2022
Rila Monastery and 7 Rila Lakes Self-Guided Shared Trip from Sofia
An absolutely unmissable experience. The shuttle gives plenty of time to see both the Lakes and the Monastery both. The views from the top of the Lakes national park are unforgettable and well worth the climb to see
star-5
This was a great trip...
NormaDelik, Jul 2022
Rila Monastery and 7 Rila Lakes Self-Guided Shared Trip from Sofia
This was a great trip made even better by our tour guide Bobbi. He was very knowledgeable and very accommodating. The views at the lakes are amazing and worth the hike. It is challenging but well worth it and I would go again withbthis tour operator. Thank you for an amazing day.
star-5
Fantastic experience!
Steven_C, Jun 2022
Rila Monastery and 7 Rila Lakes Self-Guided Shared Trip from Sofia
We got engaged in absolutely amazing surroundings :). The trip was great. We had fantastic driver (bus nr 1) who was very knowledgeable and talkative and spoke good English. Bus was comfortable and there was more less enough time for everything. We could have done with half an hour longer in the 7 lakes but it was alright. Good price for amazing experience. We would definitely not be able to get there any other way. Strongly recommend the experience.
star-5
Rila Lakes and Monastery
Timothy_H, Jul 2022
Rila Monastery and 7 Rila Lakes Self-Guided Shared Trip from Sofia
Rila Lakes should be pretty much the top attraction on TripAdvisor etc. Its stunningly beautiful. I'm 61 and well travelled and this is still one of the most beautiful places I have been. The trip allows you time to hike around all 7 Rila Lakes. The mountains are really spectacular. Its a 20 mins journey on a ski lift which just adds to the fun. Rila Monastery is also stunning and this trip means you arrive quite late in time for evening service when the monastery is less visited. Practical points. Have cash for the ski lift, 25 lev, plus toilets, 1 lev plus drinks etc. Bulgaria isn't a cashless society. The trek is quite challenging with extended uphill sections so do be sure you are fit enough. There's very limited chances to buy food and poor options so do pack your own lunch.
star-5
Amazing experience with a wonderful van driver/guide!
Adam_C, Jun 2022
Rila Monastery and 7 Rila Lakes Self-Guided Shared Trip from Sofia
Bobby was the most wonderful tour guide. We spent a total of nearly 6 hrs in the van with him and is was so pleasant. We had about 5 hrs at the Rila Lakes that are absolutely beautiful and about 1 hr at the Rila Monastery. A few notes: 1. For anyone afraid of heights make sure you won't be afraid of a 20+ minute chairlift ride (very high up) in each direction to/from the Rila Lakes start. 2. The hike was mostly moderate but at times was intense with some snow so definitely come prepared with hiking shoes, water, sunscreen, food etc. 3. The Rila Monastery has a strict dress code (especially in the Church) so be prepared to cover up or be handed something to cover up with.
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Things to know before you go

  • For overnight stays, several family-run hotels are located in foothill villages like Govedartsi, Mala Tsarkva, and Madzhare.
  • Snowshoeing guides are highly recommended due to backcountry conditions and the threat of avalanches.
  • If hiking, be prepared with sturdy shoes, plenty of food and water, and emergency supplies.
  • Weather conditions can change rapidly in the mountains, so dress in layers.
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How to get there

Public transit from Sofia to the Rila Mountains is available during the peak summer hiking season, but typically requires a lengthy bus or shuttle ride, and at least one transfer to access trailheads. All guided tours include transportation.

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When to get there

June–August is the peak hiking and biking season—when the weather is warmest and trail conditions are dry. The changing colors of fall foliage begin in September, while January–March is the best time for snowshoeing.

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Rila Monastery

Bulgaria's largest monastery and a cultural jewel—Rila Monastery is also one of the most-visited sites in southeastern Europe, thanks to its distinctive architecture nestled in the glorious alpine setting of the Rila Mountains. The site dates to the 10th century, but the current monastery was built in the 19th century with Ottoman-influenced striped columns and domes. Gilded ceiling frescoes represent the peak of the so-called “Bulgarian Renaissance,” while a museum houses relics like Rafail's Cross—a wooden icon carved with hundreds of miniature scenes and figures.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What are the nearest attractions to Rila Mountains?
A:
Attractions near Rila Mountains:
Q:
What else should I know about attractions in Sofia?
A:
As well as visiting the Rila Mountains, check out these trip ideas to make the most of your visit: